THE NAME "CHRISTIAN" (Names Mean Something) - by Roy J. Hearn

Many people will work hard to provide for their families, pay their debts, deal honestly with others in order to have a good name, for they realize that is better than otherwise. However, when it comes to religion, another attitude is assumed, and when Biblical terms are suggested, instead of human names, it is often affirmed "There is nothing in a name." A preacher once said that in the pulpit and an old sister in the back arose and exclaimed: "Praise be to Beelzebub." The preacher rebuked her, for Beelzebub is prince of the devils. She replied, "If there is nothing in a name, we can praise God in the name of Beelzebub as well as in the name of Christ".

But what is God's attitude toward names? In the Bible names had meaning. Pharaoh's daughter named Moses, "Because I drew him out of the water." Abram meant "exalted father." God changed his name to Abraham which meant "father of a multitude" (Gen.17:5). Jacob meant a "supplanter," but was called Israel which means "the prince that prevails with God." When John the Immerser was born the people insisted that he be called Zacharias, but God had already named him John. If nothing is in a name, why did God insist he be named John instead of after his father (Lk.1:13).

God also named Jesus before the Christ was born. While names mean nothing to many in religion, God attaches great importance and significance to them. Consider then the origin of the name "Christian". Please read Isaiah 56:5 and 62:2 and note the following: (1) God would give His people a new name. (2) To be given by the mouth of the Lord. (3) It was to be given in the house of the Lord. (4) It would be an everlasting name, better than of sons and daughters. (5) It would be when Gentiles were brought into the fold (Eph.2:15-16). First Timothy 3:14-15 declares that the house of God, or the family of God, is the church, therefore, the new name would be given in the church, and it was given by Jehovah. The Lord told Ananias that Saul of Tarsus (Paul) should bear

His NAME before the Gentiles, kings and the Israelites (Acts 9:15). In the eleventh chapter of Acts the disciples went to Tarsus and brought Paul to Antioch, where for a whole year they studied God's word, and verse 26 says: "The disciples were called CHRISTIANS first at Antioch". It should be conclusive, therefore, that the name spoken by the prophet is CHRISTIAN, not this kind of Christian, or that kind, but Christian only, without some man-made appellation.

The name Israel contained the name of God, "El", and thereby glorified God, so the name Christian contains the name of Christ and should be used to give Him glory.

What, then, would be the objection to other names? If God has no objections to setting aside His law and holding to names, doctrines and practices in religion that are unknown to the Bible, that would be fine, but the Lord has not only revealed that He will not tolerate such, but has explicitly stated that he will not. The infallibly safe course is to stay with what the Bible teaches (Gal.1:8-9; Rev.22:18-19). In order to justify the use of man-made names in religion, some argue that the name Christian was given in derision by the enemies of Christ, thus it is a man-made name. The reader is informed that the verb from "were called" is derived from the Greek word CHREMATIZO, and means to speak as an oracle, to divinely warn, or to be called or named from a divine source. Observe the recognition given by inspired writers. I Peter 4:16 states, "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name", or on this behalf. King Agrippa said to Paul: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28-29). James 2:7 says: "Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called?" One cannot properly blaspheme that which is not divine and sacred, therefore, the name Christian was not given by human agency, but originated in heaven We must recognize the curse of man-given names. Such names used that are not found in the Bible are divisive in character, designating different religious parties, sectarian in purpose and effect, separating one group of professed believers from another, thereby causing strife, making the uses antagonistic to the spirit of Christ, who prayed that all His followers be one (Jno.17:20-21). It would be great if all would be just one in Christ, and not be divided by names, doctrines and practices not found in the Bible. To honor some man, exalt some ordinance, or form of government, calling a church after them, is to dishonor Christ. Read I Corinthians 1:10-15.

Some Corinthians were following men, creating parties within the church. Paul said: "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" His reasoning is: Since Paul was not crucified for you, you have no right to wear the name of Paul. This applies to any other names not found in the Bible.

The Holy Spirit condemns their use as names to be worn by the people of God. Therefore, let all true believers return to the Bible and let them all be one in Christ, not divided from each other.

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